Customers looking at laptops at a Best Buy in Los Angeles.
According to a new estimate from Gartner, PC shipments to retailers and other vendors increased 32% in the first quarter of 2021 compared to the same quarter last year. The research firm said it was the fastest PC growth rate since 2000 and estimated 69.9 million laptops and desktops shipped in the quarter.
PC shipments declined sharply in the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic before picking up again later in the year, making it easy to compare. But the boom is also real on an absolute basis: the total number of PC deliveries was 71.7 million, the highest since 2015 when they arrived, according to Gartner.
Gartner’s statistics don’t include Chromebooks, which are inexpensive laptops running a browser operating system developed by Google that are popular with schools. Gartner estimates that the PC market, including Chromebooks, grew 47% in terms of shipments in the quarter.
Monday’s report suggests that PC sales are historically strong right now and that a boom in home PC sales may not end as more office workers are called back and students go back to school. The statistics also suggest that during a global semiconductor shortage, PCs will continue to require many new chips and other components.
“We believe that at least this year, especially the first half of this year, PC demand will remain strong. The question is how strong will it be in the second half of this year through next year,” the Gartner said – Researcher Mikako Kitagawa CNBC.
The first quarter is usually a slow time for PC sales, especially when compared to the vacation quarter.
Kitagawa said this quarter’s results might have been even better had it not been for a global chip shortage and other supply chain issues that are forcing some PC vendors to say they will ship computers months later than usual.
“The supply chain was completely disrupted a year ago, and the supply chain is currently disrupted due to a global semiconductor shortage,” said Kitagawa.
According to the report, the leading PC manufacturers are Lenovo, HP, Dell, Apple, Acer and Asus.
Other sales estimates also suggest a hot PC market during the reporting period: Canalys estimates the PC market grew 55% in the quarter, and IDC also estimates 55% growth.